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US abortion rights: Biden slams 'out-of-control Supreme Court' as he signs order on access

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By Reuters with Euronews
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President Joe Biden speaks about abortion access with US Vice-President Kamala Harris in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Friday, July 8, 2022, in Washington.
President Joe Biden speaks about abortion access with US Vice-President Kamala Harris in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Friday, July 8, 2022, in Washington.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Joe Biden slammed an "out-of-control Supreme Court" over its decision overturning the right to an abortion, as he signed an executive order to ease access to services to terminate pregnancies.

The US President has been under pressure from his own Democratic party to take action after the landmark decision last month to overturn Roe v Wade, which upended almost 50 years of protections for women's reproductive rights.

The order, signed on Friday, directs the government's health department to expand access to "medication abortion" — pills prescribed to end pregnancies — and ensure women have access to emergency medical care, family planning services and contraception. 

It also mentions protecting doctors, women who travel for abortions and mobile abortion clinics at state borders. But it offered few specifics and promises to have limited impact in practice, since states can make laws restricting abortion and access to medication.

"What we're witnessing wasn't a constitutional judgment, it was an exercise in raw political power," Biden told reporters at the White House. "We cannot allow an out of control Supreme Court, working in conjunction with extremist elements of the Republican party, to take away freedoms and our personal autonomy."

Biden laid out how abortion rights could be codified into law by voters if they elected "two additional pro-choice senators, and a pro-choice House" and urged women to turn out in record numbers to vote. He said he would veto any law passed by Republicans to ban abortion rights nationwide.

Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren called it "important first steps". The issue may help drive Democrats to the polls in the November midterm elections, when Republicans have a chance of taking control of Congress.

But Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said "Democrats are out of touch with the American people" after Biden's remarks.

The Supreme Court's ruling restored states' ability to ban abortion. As a result, women with unwanted pregnancies face the choice of travelling to another state where the procedure remains legal and available, buying abortion pills online, or having a potentially dangerous illegal abortion.